Church attendance matters because…
- The Book of Acts tells us that the corporate church continuously met together (Acts 2:42-47) and Luke made it a point to count it as a way of marking progress and participation.
- God says that no one should ever get out of the routine of meeting for corporate worship every single week (Hebrews 10:25).
- The vast majority of what Christians do are things than can only be done when they meet together (see over 50 “one another” scriptures)
- Jesus promised that he would build his church (Matthew 16:18).
The simple fact is that going to church matters.
As I mentioned in a post on BrianJones.com,
“Attending church isn’t some mildly important activity that does some good if you happen to find room in your busy schedule to make it to a service or two.
It’s what Charles Duhigg calls a ‘keystone habit.’ It’s the one habit that does more to strengthen all other Christian habits combined.
You eliminate faithful participation in church and you lessen the resolve of everything about your walk with Christ. Everything.”
That’s why if you want to see your church break through whatever attendance barrier you’re currently facing, you must work harder on your Ecclesiology than anything else.
Contemporary “missional” church paradigms place evangelism and service over Ecclesiology, oftentimes belittling the importance of the corporate worship experience on the Lord’s Day. This wholesale abandonment of sound theological praxis is both shocking and sad.
What has all this got us in the last ten years? One of the most startling and sharpest church attendance declines in the modern era and virtually no progress in evangelism to speak of.
Trust me, the course correction is coming.
But that’s not why I’m bringing this up.
More than likely your church is not growing because you’ve been reading too many Alan Hirsch books.
It’s because you either don’t think the church can grow, or you’ve come to believe that you yourself don’t have the chops to be the servant leader that helps them grow.
Or, scariest of all, you’ve been duped into thinking Jesus really doesn’t care if the numerical attendance (which simply gauges the active engagement and participation in your community of faith) goes up or not.
I’m one voice that’s here to say church attendance matters.
And until you change your Ecclesiology, nothing is going to change.
How to Recapture Jesus’ Vision for Church
You must recapture the vision Jesus had for what His church would do and be.
Here are five things I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that will help you do that:
- Re-Read The Entire New Testament.
Get a cheap paperback copy of the Bible and go back and underline the word “church” every time it occurs, or make notes in the margins when you see the church described, or in action. Do this on retreats especially.
- Fast From Church Growth Books.
Years ago I purged my personal library of all the “how-to” books I collected over the years and started over. I would encourage you to do the same.
- Pick 2-3 Churches And Visit Them.
Personally I’ve made the choice over the last few years to pick an actual church and go spend time with their pastor rather than go to conferences. Conferences can be good, but not when you’re trying to reassess and recreate your working paradigms. Go visit churches built on sound theological praxis and let that church’s convictions affect your own.
- Re-Read Great Books On Ecclesiology.
Honestly the last ten years have produced such crap when it comes to the church that it’s hard to find books in print that help in this regard. I would recommend turning to the old theological classics, though Gilbert Bilezekian’s Community 101 is a great primer on the power of the local church.
- See Your Church Through Jesus’ Eyes.
Jesus wants his Church to grow. Period. Shut out the discordant voices that cause you to second guess yourself at every turn, luring you into constantly changing methods and chasing the next new fad. Lead his Church. HIS Church.
The Future is in the Steepled Churches
I’m convinced Senior Pastors who serve churches meeting in regular old church buildings will lead the future growth of the church.
I’m talking about buildings that are nothing fancy, quite possibly a steeple on top.
I’m talking about churches with terrible softball teams, stupid traditions, limited parking and sacred cows that keep things from being changed.
When the winds of time blow away the final remnants of the latest and greatest contemporary church fads, as they have for century after century of the church’s history, what will be left are the simple, loving, and woefully imperfect churches like the ones we serve.
How would you encourage another Senior Pastor concerned about church attendance?